Here's Everything You Need to Know about Islamic Hate for the Christian Cross

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Last May in Italy, a Muslim boy of African origin beat a 12-year-old girl during school because she was wearing a crucifix around her neck.  The African schoolboy, who had only started to attend the school approximately three weeks earlier, began to bully the Christian girl -- “insulting her and picking on her in other ways all because she was wearing the crucifix” -- before he finally “punched the girl violently in the back.”

What is it about the Christian cross that makes some Muslims react this way?

The fact is, Islamic hostility to the cross is an unwavering fact of life -- one that crosses continents and centuries; one that is very much indicative of Islam’s innate hostility to Christianity.

Doctrine and History

Because the Christian cross is the quintessential symbol of Christianity -- for all denominations, including most forms of otherwise iconoclastic Protestantism -- it has been a despised symbol in Islam.

According to the Conditions of Omar -- a medieval text which lays out the many humiliating stipulations conquered Christians must embrace to preserve their lives and which Islamic history attributes to the second “righteous caliph,” Omar al-Khattab -- Christians are “not to display a cross [on churches]… and “not to produce a cross or [Christian] book in the markets of the Muslims.”

The reason for this animosity is that the cross symbolizes the fundamental disagreement between Christians and Muslims.

According to Dr. Sidney Griffith, author of The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque, “The cross and the icons publicly declared those very points of Christian faith which the Koran, in the Muslim view, explicitly denied: that Christ was the Son of God and that he died on the cross.”  Thus “the Christian practice of venerating the cross and the icons of Christ and the saints often aroused the disdain of Muslims,” so that there was an ongoing “campaign to erase the public symbols of Christianity, especially the previously ubiquitous sign of the cross.”

Islam’s hostility to the cross, like all of Islam’s hostilities, begins with the Muslim prophet Muhammad. He reportedly “had such a repugnance to the form of the cross that he broke everything brought into his house with its figure upon it” and once ordered someone wearing a cross to “take off that piece of idolatry.”   Moreover, Muhammad claimed that at the end times Jesus himself would make it a point to “break the cross” -- an assertion the Islamic State regularly makes.

Islamic history ever since Muhammad is riddled with anecdotes of Muslims cursing and breaking crosses.  Prior to the Battle of Yarmuk in 636, which pitted the earliest invading Muslim armies against the Byzantine Empire, Khalid bin al-Walid, the savage “Sword of Allah,” told the Christians that if they wanted peace they must “break the cross” and embrace Islam, or pay jizya and live in subjugation -- just as his Islamic State successors are doing today in direct emulation.  The Byzantines opted for war.

In Egypt, Saladin (d. 1193) -- regularly touted in the West for his “magnanimity” -- ordered “the removal of every cross from atop the dome of every church in the provinces of Egypt,” in the words of The History of the Patriarchate of the Egyptian Church.